Archive for the ‘Tarcoles River’ tag
On the shores of the Tarcoles River, not too distant from where I live here in Costa Rica, I found quite a few Black-Necked Stilts. Interesting to me is the bird’s head which reminds me of the Yin-Yang symbol, a symbol that represents a few polarities; and, that of consciousness and the unconscious, the masculine and the feminine. I am bringing this photo here as it symbolises for me the shift from nigredo to albedo, from the confrontation of the shadow.
The second stage in the alchemical process is called “albedo.” It is important to note that this is a “whitening” process, not necessarily the “white” stage. Thus, the reason for this photo which shows both black and white. I will return back to Marie-Louise von Franz for a good description of this stage in the alchemical process.
In the alchemical work of the nigredo is followed by the albedo. This phase corresponds in the individuation process to the integration of the inner contrasexual components, the anima in the case of a man, the animus with a woman. (von Franz, C.G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time, p. 223; cited in Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book Two, p 50)
Marie-Louise von Franz here uses this information while talking about the psychoanalytic process and the relationship between the analyst and the analysand. But, if we look at this stage in a bigger picture, we can extend it to be more than the integration of the animus or anima; we can see it to be the integration of complexes in general. Remembering that the nigredo was about confronting the shadow, the albedo becomes dealing with what one learns in that confrontation. Hopefully, we learn enough to accept that we own the shadow thus allowing ourselves to withdraw projections. In doing this, we own our complexes and in turn lessen the power of the unconscious to act for us without our awareness. Of course, we know that we can’t master all of this unconscious contents as enough of it is tied into a larger, collective unconsciousness.
I am beginning to see that alchemy is not so esoteric and has become just a way of understanding what is happening to me as I consciously engage with the uncovering of my shadow side. There is no doubt in my mind that in following this path I will become a healthier person, more whole. It’s not perfect, but it is better than what was.
A trip to the Tarcoles River which is shown above, was made specifically to go crocodile hunting with the camera. And, as you can tell, I did manage to achieve my objective. At the end of the morning I had probably seen about thirty different crocodiles of varying sizes. This fellow was seen near the end of the journey on the river. This guy’s protective covering and fearsome teeth suggest that he is one tough customer. In a way, this is exactly the same idea with our “persona,” the face of “self” that we present to the world.
Without a persona, we are simply too vulnerable. We regularly cover up our inferiorities with a persona, since we do not like our weaknesses to be seen. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, p. 75
What lies beneath the persona is a curious thing. Of course, we know what we are protecting, what we are disguising when we take on a persona. For example, the persona I wore while being a principal of a school was different from the persona I would wear as a minor hockey coach years ago. Each mask was crafted for a particular purpose with a different intended audience. The “self” that consciously directs the traffic of these masks is the ego. However, there is also an unconscious level of self that comes to the theatre of persona, the “shadow” is also doing what it needs to do.
Generally speaking, the shadow is less civilized, more primitive, cares little for social propriety. What is of value to the persona is anathema to the shadow, and vice versa. Hence the shadow and the persona function in a compensatory way: the brighter the light, the darker the shadow. The more one identifies with the persona – which is in effect is to deny that one has a shadow – the more trouble one will have with the unacknowledged areas of the personality. (ibid)
This is good stuff to know. There is no doubt that living as though one was fully persona, living the natural attitude and our dominant functions works well and we are rewarded well in life doing so. Yet, at some point, because the shadow, the opposite attitude and the inferior functions will want out of the prison in which we have confined them. When this happens, we can consider this to be a happy breakdown as it finally convinces us, through pain, to acknowledge all the denied aspects of self, both consciously and unconsciously denied. This is the gift of a midlife crisis.
This morning I went on an excursion to the Tarcoles River here in Costa Rica. The idea was to get a number of photos of crocodiles in the brackish waters of the Tarcoles River near the Pacific Ocean. While waiting for my guide and boat, I wandered a bit and found this beautiful Scarlet Macaw. I’ve been watching a pair of Macaws late each afternoon as they pass over the south end of the beach on their way into the low mountains near by. I have managed to get a few shots of the birds as they fly high in the air, but never a photo this close and this clear. This sure beats trying to take a photo of the bird in some sanctuary where wire gets in the way. I like this photo as it serves as a clear representation of an extravert that focuses on object.
. . . what is of value to the introvert is the opposite of what is important to the extravert, the inferior attitude regularly bedevils one’s relationships with others. (Sharp, Jung Uncorked: Book One, 2008, p. 67)
No wonder we experience relationship conflicts with those who have a different psychological attitude. I know that I drive extraverts crazy with my lack of focus on the outer world; and I drive them even crazier when I don’t manifest a passion for things, for action in the outer world. But then again, I am driven nuts with the focus on trying to decide whether one eats at this restaurant, that restaurant or yet a different restaurant. It’s enough that we eat decent food. In my mind, it isn’t worth the energy to debate the question and then take a stand to convince the “other” of my choice. Yet, this is important stuff for an extravert.
How can there be a true meeting of the minds when those minds are on different wavelengths speaking a different language? Maybe this isn’t something that is easily done. But, it is definitely interesting and worth the experience.